Welcome to playoff baseball! After a long season, it all comes down to this!
The first action we have is the Wild Card game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to decide who will move on to play the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS round. With only one game on the slate we have a showdown breakdown today. Showdown in baseball is extremely tough, especially in comparison to NFL or NBA action, but there is still money to be won in DFS action! Stick to GPP action as this is so hit or miss that playing cash games would not be advised.
Both the Yankees and Red Sox finished with identical 92-70 records to grab the two Wild Card spots, but the Red Sox own the tiebreaker and will be the home team for this game, which is more important for them than it would be for the Yankees as the Red Sox went 49-32 at home and 43-38 on the road, while the Yankees went 46-35 at home and 46-35 on the road. Let’s dive in!
New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Moneyline: Yankees -132 / Red Sox +110
O/U: 8.0 runs
Head-to-head record this year: Red Sox 10 wins, Yankees 9 wins
Red Sox: 5.12 runs per game (5th)
Yankees: 4.39 runs per game (19th)
**Please note that players not listed below are not necessarily a complete fade and any player listed can certainly be used as the MVP/Captain. These are merely suggestions for players to use when setting Showdown lineups.
Gerrit Cole, NYY – Pitchers outscore hitters. Plain and simple. An average game for Cole (scoring wise) is a great game for hitters and a great game for Cole is almost unmatchable for a hitter (barring a crazy huge game). Cole had 14 games with at least 25 points on DK this season in 30 starts and had at least 35 points in seven of them. He had a great season with 16 wins, a 3.23 ERA, 2.92 FIP, and 243 strikeouts across 181.1 innings of work. He had at least six strikeouts in all four of his starts against Boston this season. He went 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA and 25 strikeouts in his final three starts against them (17 innings). Nobody has a bigger ceiling in this game than Cole has.
Nathan Eovaldi, BOS – If wanting to be a bit different and less chalky you can look to Eovaldi on the other side of things (I personally lean Cole and the Yankees winning, but that isn’t a sure thing). Eovaldi had a nice season too with 11 wins, a 3.75 ERA, 2.79 FIP (best in the AL), and 195 strikeouts across 182.1 innings of work. The Yankees clobbered him the last time he faced them, but he was great against them in his four prior starts against them. He was far better at home this season with a 3.47 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, compared to a 4.21 ERA and 1.30 WHIP on the road.
Aaron Judge, NYY – Judge had a fantastic season, hitting .287 with 39 home runs, six steals, 98 RBI, and 89 runs scored. He was far better on the road than at home, slashing .314/.394/.625 on the road, compared to .259/.350/.459 at home. He was better against lefties than righties, but he was still great against righties, slashing .283/.364/.522 against them. Eovaldi had reverse splits as righties slashed .263/.305/.424 against him, compared to the .241/.280/.375 line that lefties produced. On top of all that, Judge is 8-20 (.400) with a home run against Eovaldi in his career. The problem is trying to get both Cole and Judge into the lineup.
Anthony Rizzo, NYY – Going a little deeper down the list we have Rizzo and if I want to get crazy with a hitter in the MVP spot, this is the guy I am going with. He has homered twice in the past four games. He is 3-12 (.250) with two doubles and four runs scored across three games in Boston this season. He has liked this head-to-head matchup too, going 5-9 (.556) against Eovaldi in his career. I really like the price tag on Rizzo today and while I will go with Cole in the captain spot, Rizzo is someone that will be in my lineup as well.
Alex Verdugo, BOS – Verdugo had a solid season, hitting .289 with 13 home runs, six steals, and 88 runs scored. He is a better real life player than fantasy asset as he doesn’t hit for a lot of power or steal a lot of bases, but he can usually be counted on for some production. He was far better against righties than lefties this year, slashing .321/.392/.501 against them with 11 home runs and ALL of his steals, compared to .228/.269/.286 against lefties. He has done very well against Cole (in comparison to most players), going 4-14 (.286) with a home run against him in his career.
Gio Urshela, NYY – Urshela had a decent season, hitting .267 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He ended the year strong, hitting .281 with three home runs and 10 runs scored over his final 26 games. As mentioned in Judge’s section, Eovaldi has massive reverse splits and that works in Urshela’s favor obviously. He has done pretty well in this head-to-head matchup too, going 4-15 (.267) with a home run against Eovaldi in his career.
Christian Vázquez, BOS – Vazquez is my favorite bat for the Red Sox today. Yes, you read that right. Obviously if I am rolling with Cole at captain, I can’t afford guys like Devers or Bogaerts going up against my own pitcher, so we have to look to spend wisely. Vazquez ended the year on a three-game hitting streak with a triple and two RBI in that span. He has massive reverse splits this season, slashing .277/.335/.375 against righties, compared to .219/.250/.305 against lefties. Righties hit .229 against Cole this season, compared to the .216 mark that lefties produced. On top of all that, he is 5-17 (.294) against Cole in his career. UPDATE: Vazquez is not starting.
*ADDED* Kevin Plawecki, BOS – Well if you read earlier before lineups were released, I really liked Vazquez, but we are going to pivot to Plawecki here who I like in his place. Plawecki had a nice season, hitting .287 with three home runs as the backup backstop. He was fantastic at home in Boston, slashing .333/.408/.483 with all three of his home runs, compared to .229/.270/.271 on the road. Righties hit .229 against Cole this season, compared to the .216 mark that lefties produced. Plawecki has faced Cole three times and recorded one hit.
Rougned Odor, NYY – Odor only hit .202 this season, but he did have 15 home runs. He was a far better player on the road, slashing .232/.291/.417, compared to .169/.281/.338 at home. This is one of those dart throw type plays where you’re just hoping to get lucky and see him send one over the wall and help you hit big in a tournament. Would I be lying if I said I have confidence in him having a strong game today? Yes. However, his cheap price does open up a few bigger priced plays. UPDATE: Odor is not starting.
Brett Gardner, NYY – Gardner was also pretty dreadful this season, hitting .222 with 10 home runs, four steals, and 47 runs scored. His age has caught up with him, hence his minimum price salary today. He is another dart throw play as a salary saver where you are hoping to get lucky. On the bright side, nine of his 10 home runs, 33 of his 39 RBI, 38 of his 47 runs, and ALL four of his steals came against righties, so while he hit .253 against lefties, compared to .212 against righties, all of his counting stat production (the thing that matters) came against righties.